e stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when
humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly
interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great
promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent
diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth
community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a
sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human
rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is
imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one
another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations.
Earth, Our Home
Humanity is part of a vast evolving universe.
Earth, our home, is alive with a unique community of life. The forces of nature
make existence a demanding and uncertain adventure, but Earth has provided the
conditions essential to life's evolution. The resilience of the community of
life and the well-being of humanity depend upon preserving a healthy biosphere
with all its ecological systems, a rich variety of plants and animals, fertile
soils, pure waters, and clean air. The global environment with its finite
resources is a common concern of all peoples. The protection of Earth's
vitality, diversity, and beauty is a sacred trust.
The Global Situation
The dominant patterns of production and
consumption are causing environmental devastation, the depletion of resources,
and a massive extinction of species. Communities are being undermined. The
benefits of development are not shared equitably and the gap between rich and
poor is widening. Injustice, poverty, ignorance, and violent conflict are
widespread and the cause of great suffering. An unprecedented rise in human
population has overburdened ecological and social systems. The foundations of
global security are threatened. These trends are perilous - but not inevitable.
The Challenges Ahead
The choice is ours: form a global partnership
to care for Earth and one another or risk the destruction of ourselves and the
diversity of life. Fundamental changes are needed in our values, institutions,
and ways of living. We must realize that when basic needs have been met, human
development is primarily about being more, not having more. We have the
knowledge and technology to provide for all and to reduce our impacts on the
environment. The emergence of a global civil society is creating new
opportunities to build a democratic and humane world. Our environmental,
economic, political, social, and spiritual challenges are interconnected, and
together we can forge inclusive solutions.
To realize these aspirations, we must
decide to live with a sense of universal responsibility, identifying ourselves
with the whole Earth community as well as our local communities. We are at once
citizens of different nations and of one world in which the local and global are
linked. Everyone shares responsibility for the present and future well-being of
the human family and the larger living world. The spirit of human solidarity and
kinship with all life is strengthened when we live with reverence for the
mystery of being, gratitude for the gift of life, and humility regarding the
human place in nature.
We urgently need a shared vision of basic values to provide an ethical
foundation for the emerging world community. Therefore, together in hope we
affirm the following interdependent principles for a sustainable way of life as
a common standard by which the conduct of all individuals, organizations,
businesses, governments, and transnational institutions is to be guided and
I. RESPECT AND CARE FOR THE COMMUNITY OF LIFE
1. Respect Earth and life in all its diversity.
- Recognize that all beings are interdependent and every form of life has
value regardless of its worth to human beings.
- Affirm faith in the inherent dignity of all human beings and in the
intellectual, artistic, ethical, and spiritual potential of humanity.
2. Care for the community of life with understanding, compassion, and
- Accept that with the right to own, manage, and use natural resources comes
the duty to prevent environmental harm and to protect the rights of people.
- Affirm that with increased freedom, knowledge, and power comes increased
responsibility to promote the common good.
3. Build democratic societies that are just, participatory, sustainable,
- Ensure that communities at all levels guarantee human rights and fundamental
freedoms and provide everyone an opportunity to realize his or her full
- Promote social and economic justice, enabling all to achieve a secure and
meaningful livelihood that is ecologically responsible.
4. Secure Earth's bounty and beauty for present and future
- Recognize that the freedom of action of each generation is qualified by the
needs of future generations.
- Transmit to future generations values, traditions, and institutions that
support the long-term flourishing of Earth's human and ecological communities.
In order to fulfill these four broad commitments, it is necessary to:
II. ECOLOGICAL INTEGRITY
5. Protect and restore the integrity of Earth's ecological systems, with
special concern for biological diversity and the natural processes that sustain
- Adopt at all levels sustainable development plans and regulations that make
environmental conservation and rehabilitation integral to all development
- Establish and safeguard viable nature and biosphere reserves, including wild
lands and marine areas, to protect Earth's life support systems, maintain
biodiversity, and preserve our natural heritage.
- Promote the recovery of endangered species and ecosystems.
- Control and eradicate non-native or genetically modified organisms harmful
to native species and the environment, and prevent introduction of such harmful
- Manage the use of renewable resources such as water, soil, forest products,
and marine life in ways that do not exceed rates of regeneration and that
protect the health of ecosystems.
- Manage the extraction and use of non-renewable resources such as minerals
and fossil fuels in ways that minimize depletion and cause no serious
6. Prevent harm as the best method of environmental protection and, when
knowledge is limited, apply a precautionary approach.
- Take action to avoid the possibility of serious or irreversible
environmental harm even when scientific knowledge is incomplete or inconclusive.
- Place the burden of proof on those who argue that a proposed activity will
not cause significant harm, and make the responsible parties liable for
- Ensure that decision making addresses the cumulative, long-term, indirect,
long distance, and global consequences of human activities.
- Prevent pollution of any part of the environment and allow no build-up of
radioactive, toxic, or other hazardous substances.
- Avoid military activities damaging to the environment.
7. Adopt patterns of production, consumption, and reproduction that
safeguard Earth's regenerative capacities, human rights, and community
- Reduce, reuse, and recycle the materials used in production and consumption
systems, and ensure that residual waste can be assimilated by ecological
- Act with restraint and efficiency when using energy, and rely increasingly
on renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.
- Promote the development, adoption, and equitable transfer of environmentally
- Internalize the full environmental and social costs of goods and services in
the selling price, and enable consumers to identify products that meet the
highest social and environmental standards.
- Ensure universal access to health care that fosters reproductive health and
- Adopt lifestyles that emphasize the quality of life and material sufficiency
in a finite world.
8. Advance the study of ecological sustainability and promote the open
exchange and wide application of the knowledge acquired.
- Support international scientific and technical cooperation on
sustainability, with special attention to the needs of developing nations.
- Recognize and preserve the traditional knowledge and spiritual wisdom in all
cultures that contribute to environmental protection and human well-being.
- Ensure that information of vital importance to human health and
environmental protection, including genetic information, remains available in
the public domain.
III. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE
9. Eradicate poverty as an ethical, social, and environmental
- Guarantee the right to potable water, clean air, food security,
uncontaminated soil, shelter, and safe sanitation, allocating the national and
international resources required.
- Empower every human being with the education and resources to secure a
sustainable livelihood, and provide social security and safety nets for those
who are unable to support themselves.
- Recognize the ignored, protect the vulnerable, serve those who suffer, and
enable them to develop their capacities and to pursue their aspirations.
10. Ensure that economic activities and institutions at all levels promote
human development in an equitable and sustainable manner.
- Promote the equitable distribution of wealth within nations and among
- Enhance the intellectual, financial, technical, and social resources of
developing nations, and relieve them of onerous international debt.
- Ensure that all trade supports sustainable resource use, environmental
protection, and progressive labor standards.
- Require multinational corporations and international financial organizations
to act transparently in the public good, and hold them accountable for the
consequences of their activities.
11. Affirm gender equality and equity as prerequisites to sustainable
development and ensure universal access to education, health care, and economic
- Secure the human rights of women and girls and end all violence against
- Promote the active participation of women in all aspects of economic,
political, civil, social, and cultural life as full and equal partners, decision
makers, leaders, and beneficiaries.
- Strengthen families and ensure the safety and loving nurture of all family
12. Uphold the right of all, without discrimination, to a natural and
social environment supportive of human dignity, bodily health, and spiritual
well-being, with special attention to the rights of indigenous peoples and
- Eliminate discrimination in all its forms, such as that based on race,
color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, language, and national, ethnic or
- Affirm the right of indigenous peoples to their spirituality, knowledge,
lands and resources and to their related practice of sustainable livelihoods.
- Honor and support the young people of our communities, enabling them to
fulfill their essential role in creating sustainable societies.
- Protect and restore outstanding places of cultural and spiritual
IV. DEMOCRACY, NONVIOLENCE, AND PEACE
13. Strengthen democratic institutions at all levels, and provide
transparency and accountability in governance, inclusive participation in
decision making, and access to justice.
- Uphold the right of everyone to receive clear and timely information on
environmental matters and all development plans and activities which are likely
to affect them or in which they have an interest.
- Support local, regional and global civil society, and promote the meaningful
participation of all interested individuals and organizations in decision
- Protect the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly,
association, and dissent.
- Institute effective and efficient access to administrative and independent
judicial procedures, including remedies and redress for environmental harm and
the threat of such harm.
- Eliminate corruption in all public and private institutions.
- Strengthen local communities, enabling them to care for their environments,
and assign environmental responsibilities to the levels of government where they
can be carried out most effectively.
14. Integrate into formal education and life-long learning the knowledge,
values, and skills needed for a sustainable way of life.
- Provide all, especially children and youth, with educational opportunities
that empower them to contribute actively to sustainable development.
- Promote the contribution of the arts and humanities as well as the sciences
in sustainability education.
- Enhance the role of the mass media in raising awareness of ecological and
- Recognize the importance of moral and spiritual education for sustainable
15. Treat all living beings with respect and consideration.
16. Promote a culture of tolerance,
nonviolence, and peace.
- Prevent cruelty to animals kept in human societies and protect them from
- Protect wild animals from methods of hunting, trapping, and fishing that
cause extreme, prolonged, or avoidable suffering.
- Avoid or eliminate to the full extent possible the taking or destruction of
- Encourage and support mutual understanding, solidarity, and cooperation
among all peoples and within and among nations.
- Implement comprehensive strategies to prevent violent conflict and use
collaborative problem solving to manage and resolve environmental conflicts and
- Demilitarize national security systems to the level of a non-provocative
defense posture, and convert military resources to peaceful purposes, including
- Eliminate nuclear, biological, and toxic weapons and other weapons of mass
- Ensure that the use of orbital and outer space supports environmental
protection and peace.
- Recognize that peace is the wholeness created by right relationships with
oneself, other persons, other cultures, other life, Earth, and the larger whole
of which all are a part.
THE WAY FORWARD
As never before in history, common destiny beckons us to seek a new
beginning. Such renewal is the promise of these Earth Charter principles. To
fulfill this promise, we must commit ourselves to adopt and promote the values
and objectives of the Charter.
This requires a change of mind and heart. It requires a new sense of global
interdependence and universal responsibility. We must imaginatively develop and
apply the vision of a sustainable way of life locally, nationally, regionally,
and globally. Our cultural diversity is a precious heritage and different
cultures will find their own distinctive ways to realize the vision. We must
deepen and expand the global dialogue that generated the Earth Charter, for we
have much to learn from the ongoing collaborative search for truth and wisdom.
Life often involves tensions between important values. This can mean
difficult choices. However, we must find ways to harmonize diversity with unity,
the exercise of freedom with the common good, short-term objectives with
long-term goals. Every individual, family, organization, and community has a
vital role to play. The arts, sciences, religions, educational institutions,
media, businesses, nongovernmental organizations, and governments are all called
to offer creative leadership. The partnership of government, civil society, and
business is essential for effective governance.
In order to build a sustainable global community, the nations of the world
must renew their commitment to the United Nations, fulfill their obligations
under existing international agreements, and support the implementation of Earth
Charter principles with an international legally binding instrument on
environment and development.
Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life,
the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for
justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life.
Find out more about the Earth Charter and how you can be an endorsee ...